Putin Grants Russian Citizenship To US Whistleblower Edward Snowden
Snowden, 39, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency, has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the US after leaking classified documents detailing government surveillance programmes.
He was granted permanent residency in 2020 and said at the time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship, without renouncing his US citizenship.
US authorities have for years wanted Snowden to be returned to the United States to face a criminal trial on espionage charges.
Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that the former contractor’s wife Lindsay Mills, an American who has been living with him in Russia, will also be applying for a Russian passport.
Snowden, who has kept a low profile in Russia and occasionally criticised Russian government policies on social media, said in 2019 that he was willing to return to the US if he is guaranteed a fair trial.
He has not commented on being granted Russian citizenship.
Putin, a former Russian spy chief, said in 2017 that Snowden was wrong to leak US secrets but was not a traitor.
Putin last week announced a mobilisation of Russian men to contribute to the army’s fight in Ukraine and Kucherena said Snowden would not be called up to serve given he had no prior experience in the Russian army.